Beijing: Beauty and Beast part 2

In my previous post I talked about the Beauty that is Beijing, the Great Wall. Walking on the wall and climbing the steps of history and feeling the crumbling bricks knowing that thousands of hands poured their blood and sweat into this structure really touched me. It was something I would do again if given the chance. As I alluded to in the previous post, this happened after a rather less than happy day in the city. I’m about to address the Beast.

Arriving in Beijing felt like for the first time really being in China. Like this is the real deal. I travelled to Hong Kong in January and it didn’t feel like China. It felt like the Asian Cape Town. If you only travel to Cape Town and think you’ve experienced South Africa than you’d be a little misguided.

And boy was I misguided.

Beijing to me is a veneer of modernity, culture and friendliness. Scratch a little deeper and you’ll find a Beast hiding in the smog waiting to pounce. This is the first city I’ve been to where I felt no connection. I left feeling like it was a business transaction that went sour and I was the sucker.

This sucker doesn’t like dwelling on the negative, so here are a few tips should you find yourself facing the Beast:

  1. Know your directions, as in North, South, East & West. Because when a map says walk North, it helps to know if that would be straight ahead, behind you, left or to the right of you.
  2. If approached by a friendly man who says he is studying English, RUN. If you ask him to point out a good restaurant and he says he’ll take you there, RUN. If he says he is an Art student and wants to show you his calligraphy studio, RUN. If he says his friend is having an acrobatic show and he wants to take you there, RUN. It’s a scam.
  3. Do not buy anything from any shop anywhere near any tourist site. You’ll end up paying double or triple what it’s worth.
  4. Cheap = bad, bad quality (Galvin Klein is a good example)
  5. If the traffic light turns green for you to walk across the street, this actually means that it may or may not be safe for you to walk. Cars have right of way in all instances.
  6. If using the subway, your bags will be scanned at the entrance, this includes all water bottles as well. (Kinda like going through airport security just on the subway) Airport Express Line: 25RMB Subway: 2RMB
  7. Using the bus is very easy and cheap. Cost 1RMB.
  8. If you have asthma or suffer from any allergies or sinus problems, be brave. You may find it a little difficult to breathe especially at night.
  9. What you see is not what you get.

Be safe but most importantly be a little streetwise. Hussle is the game.

OMG, we’re staying in the hood:

Old school check-in at Kelly’s Courtyard (great traditional accommodation)

A courtyard in a Chinese hood:

The Spaza shop (with a direct connection to the head of state {spot the red phone}):

Tiananmen Square:

Masses entering the Forbidden City:

The opposite to how I was feeling:

For a die-hard Coca-cola fan, the best thing about the day:

Having some chicken and veg with our oil:

A more edible meal:

Finding the Hulk’s resting place:

High stakes poker:

My friend Marelize: Faking it till you make it at 6am

Our host contemplating checking into one of those “finding peace of mind” places after having to deal with us:

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How Do You Get Fat in the Land of Skinny?

Who comes to the Land of Skinny and gets fat? This girl does. When I did eventually jump on a scale for a medical my initial reaction was the scale’s broken. Has to be. Just in case it wasn’t I mentally deducted 1 kg for my sneakers and 2 kg’s for my clothes. That felt slightly better. But still how did I gain all those kg’s? I then went to a friend’s house and jumped on her scale just to prove that the doctor’s was broken. Well now I was just pissed, 2 broken scales, what’s up with this?

I got home and all I could think about was how I could have allowed myself to put on 8kg’s. Yes I’ll say it again, 8kg’s. Bearing in mind that when I left South Africa I was still trying to get to my ideal weight (60kg). So in reality fatty boom boom over here was thundering in at her heaviest EVER, 18 kg’s over her ideal weight. Can you hear my silent scream?

Nothing like a reality check to get your fat ass into action, so I initiated the #STOPJANANDA2012 campaign in March. I’ve been at it for  2 months now so I thought I’d give you a little update. Firstly, this has not been easy, I’ve had to adjust things here and there but now that I’ve been able to make eating healthy a habit and not just a choice, it has become so much easier.

Here’s the headline news: (drum roll please)

  • I am now 6kg’s lighter. That ‘broken scale’ and my clothes told me so.
  • I have lost this weight just on eating healthy and not exercising. I’m working myself up to the exercising bit. In this area of my life I struggle to multi task. Baby steps.
  • I give myself one day off a week .  And I’ve shocked myself with the responsible adult that I’ve become because even on these days I’ve steered towards the healthy.
  • I’ve become THAT person. You know the person you say you’ll never become. Yes, I count calories, I look at fat content, I eat whole wheat, brown over white, low GI, low fat….the list could go on and on.
  • I don’t drink any alcohol
  • Somehow, the unimaginable has happened and I’ve become an almost vegetarian. I’m still eating chicken and some seafood.
  • I still have friends although I think they have suffered the most. My social life, although it wasn’t much before, is even less now. Because I haven’t been exercising I’ve limited my eating out to my one day off a week. I still see my friends regularly we just not having George Clooney parties anymore.
  • Making healthy eating a habit has forced me to be disciplined.

I’ve kept a really simple eating plan which I prescribed to myself. I have an apple or orange for breakfast, chicken/tuna salad and fruit for lunch and either soup, vegetables and chicken or a small portion of whole wheat pasta and vegetables for dinner. Plain nuts in between meals if I’m hungry.  I have a sweet tooth so an orange after dinner cures my need for a chocolate. And I eat dinner by 6:30 and drink 2L of water a day religiously.

I’ve tried to eat healthy many times before and given up after a week or two. The only reason I’m managing to do it now is because my mind and body are in total alignment. I’ve also had to deal with my emotional eating which is a biggie. Instead of being my own worst critic I’ve become my own best cheerleader. And when you have a cheerleader on your side how could you go wrong?

 

I’ll continue to keep you updated on this journey. I have a long way to go.

Have a  wonderful weekend everyone!

ASSfixiation

My mother says that only BAD girls swear or use foul language, so if you’re my mother or you believe the same thing then DON’T READ ANY FURTHER cos I’m about to be a BAD girl.

If on the one hand my mother is very much on the straight and narrow then my father on the other hand is, well, on the other hand. He has a condition called ASSfixiation. When he is in the presence of someone who presents the behavioural tendencies of an ass, he tends to have a reaction: reddening of the face, frothing at the mouth and a spewing of unprintables. Medical experts have confirmed no immediate cure but have suggested alternative methods for dealing with it.

My father being my father, has found through experience that the only thing that eases the pain of this ASSfixiation is to inform the said ass that they are an ASSHOLE. Now he doesn’t whisper this under his breath, or do it behind their backs, no, my father being my father, does it directly to their faces. This is how the scene goes: the ass will present the behavioural tendencies of an ass, my father goes red in the face and starts frothing at the mouth, and then let’s a out a BOOM BOOM BOOM ASSHOLE. Conversation over, walk away. Done. Period. And then the world starts spinning again.

If you’ve lived in my household for long enough, you take this scene for what it is, comedy. My father has a condition, he can’t help himself.  Now, everyone, and I mean everyone, has been called an ASSHOLE: starting with the maid, the gardener, the cashier at the grocery store, the teller at the bank, the petrol attendant at the garage, the neighbour,  the cousin, the nephew, the children, the dog, the referee, the TV, the plumber, the electrician, the ex-wives, Thierry Henry and so it goes on and on and on. Don’t get mad, he has a condition, he can’t help himself.

If you’ve lived in my household for long enough you will also have learnt exactly what behavioural traits trigger the ASSfixiation. Being that I’m my father’s daughter, I think, I’m just gonna come straight out with it and say that never before have I come into contact with such a high concentration of ASSHOLES in such a small amount of space and time.

If you already know who you are at this point and feel insulted, don’t get mad, my father has a condtition. If you’re not sure, keep reading. I’m about to channel my father.

To the one who sent me a text message at 11h50pm on Friday night to say “wake up” and then another one at exactly 1:20am on Saturday morning to say “can u text me the bus times from Daegu to Kunsan”. Ummmm, no, I was sleeping……..ASSHOLE. I just needed to get that one off my chest.

To the ones who TAKE TAKE TAKE but never GIVE GIVE GIVE……..ASSHOLE ASSHOLE ASSHOLE.

To the ones who’ve spent holiday seasons with me, ones who I’ve invited into my home, cooked for, shared a drink with, bought gifts for, given time to but who seem to have developed amnesia, deleted me off facebook farewell events because I’ve taken too long to respond or leave without saying goodbye…….ASSHOLE.

To the ones who say they don’t have girlfriends when actually they do and still call me to meet them downtown for a drink……..…ASSHOLE

To the ones I deleted off facebook but who continue to stalk me…..ASSHOLE

To the ones who think I’m a concierge disguised as a friend…….ASSHOLE

And lastly, my favourites, to the ones I offer a helping hand to but want to take my whole arm, and more……….ASSHOLE

Don’t get mad now, my father has a condition, he can’t help himself.

This seems like a good time to take Kanye West’s advice and use the thug plan and runaway as fast as I can!